Projects

IRonBONE – RETURNING ‘METRICS’ TO OSTEOMETRICS IN BURNED HUMAN SKELETAL REMAINS: ESTIMATING HEAT-INDUCED DIMENSIONAL CHANGE THROUGH SPECTROSCOPY

(PTDC/IVC-ANT/1201/2014)

The objective of this project (IRonBONE – Infrared Spectroscopy on Burned Bone) is to apply vibrational spectroscopy techniques to determine dimensional changes in human burned bones and teeth, namely Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) and Inelastic Neutron Scattering (INS) spectroscopies. Most specifically, age-at-death, sex, ancestry and stature can be estimated on skeletal remains through metric methods. However, teeth and bones burned at very high temperatures present considerable dimensional changes in the form of shrinkage or, less commonly, expansion and this interferes with the precision of the estimation because it is based in references obtained from unburned skeletons. One solution to this problem would be to estimate the amount of shrinkage or expansion but no way of doing this has been devised until now. We propose to develop such a method. Three beamtime applications to ISIS have been granted so far for INS analyses linked to the IRonBONE project. One paper has been published in RSC Advances.

Researchers involved: DG, MPM, MTF, SP, AG, LBC


ASSEMBLAGE OF THE FIRST COLLECTION OF EXPERIMENTALLY BURNED HUMAN SKELETONS FOR BIOANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH

(FCT – SFRH/BPD/84268/2012)

The bioanthropological analysis of burned bones still faces many difficulties due to the lack of methods specifically developed on this kind of human remains. In order to solve this, investigation must be carried out on collections of identified skeletons burned under controlled combustions but no such collection is available nowadays to researchers. Therefore, a compilation of partially burned skeletons of known sex and age-at-death is being carried out to stimulate research in this specific field.
Abandoned skeletons from civil cemeteries are being collected for research and for the 21st century identified skeletal collection (CEI/XXI). Half of each skeleton is subject to experimental burning. This collection meets Portuguese legal requirements (2/cne/92; Decreto-Lei n.º 411/98; Decreto-Lei n.º 48/95; Lei n.º 22/2007)

Researchers involved: DG, EC, MTF, CM


THE PEASANT SOCIETIES OF THE FIRST MILLENIUM A.D. IN CENTRAL ALENTEJO, PORTUGAL

The main objective of this project is to improve our understanding of the life and death of populations inhabiting the Portuguese Cental Alentejo during the Iron age. As a result, as part of this larger-spectrum project, the urned cremations from the necropolis of Tera (Mora) are being studied in order to have a better knowledge about their funerary practices benefiting from the new insights obtained from our research on burned skeletal remains.

Researchers involved: RM, VC, TJUT, DG


ESTELA PROJECT: SYSTEMATIZATION OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA ASSOCIATED TO THE SOUTHWEST SCRIPT (IRON AGE, SOUTH OF PORTUGAL

As the title suggests, the main objective of this project is to systematize the information regarding the so-called southwest script. This is being achieved by carrying out a historical-archaeological contextualization of the stelai engraved with this script. You can know more here and here.
Stemming from that task, another aim of this project is therefore related to the excavation and bioarchaeological analysis of cremation burials from several Iron Age necropolises located in the southwest of Portugal.

Researchers involved: PB, SM, DG


ASSESSMENT OF THE POTENTIAL OF ODONTOMETRY FOR THE ESTIMATION OF SEX IN BURNED HUMAN SKELETAL REMAINS

Under a Master’s degree project, the effect of heat-induced changes on teeth dimensions was investigated on laboratorially burned human teeth donated for research (Ref. 108-CE-2014). The thesis (in Portuguese) can be downloaded here. Two papers have been published as well in Science & Justice and Cadernos do GEEvH.

Researchers involved: MG, IdOS, ALS, DG


AGE-AT-DEATH ESTIMATION IN A SAMPLE OF BURNED IDENTIFIED TEETH FROM PORTUGUESE INDIVIDUALS THROUGH CEMENTOCHRONOLOGY

Under a Master’s degree project, the effect of heat-induced changes on age estimation through tooth cementum annulation was under assessment on laboratorially burned human teeth donated for research (Ref. 108-CE-2014). The thesis (in Portuguese) can be downloaded here. One paper was published in the International Journal of Legal Medicine.

Researchers involved: IdOS, MG, EC, DG


INVESTIGATION OF THE EFFECT OF BONE COLLAGEN CONTENT ON HEAT-INDUCED WARPING THROUGH INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY

Under a Master’s degree project, the association between bone collagen content and the occurrence of warping and thumbnail fractures was the focus of this research, through FTIR and Raman technologies. One paper was published in the International Journal of Legal Medicine.

Researchers involved: ARV, EC, LBC, DG


UNWARPING HEATED BONES:A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF HEAT-INDUCED SKELETAL DEFORMATIONS USING 3D GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS

Under a Masters Degree Project, the potential of 3D Geometric Morphometrics Methods for recovering the original shape of heat-altered bones was investigated. For this, bones were 3D scanned before and after being experimentally burnt. Next, landmarks were obtained from the meshes in order to apply statistical and morphological analysis. The researchers shed some light into heat-induced alterations, such as warping and shrinkage, by quantitatively analyzing how these relate to the bone original shape, and also to the temperature and time of experimental burning.

Researchers involved: Jd’OC, EC, DG


THE POTENTIAL OF CHEMICAL ANTHROPOLOGY FOR THE DISCRIMINATION OF COMMINGLED BURNED SKELETONS

Under a PhD project, the discrimination of commingled burned skeletal remains through chemometric traits is under assessment.

Researchers involved: CM, EC, LBC, DG


TAPH – THE DIFFERENTIAL POST-DEPOSITIONAL PRESERVATION BETWEEN HUMAN BURNED AND UNBURNED BONE

This research project is investigating the implications of differential preservation of inhumed bone and inhumed burned bone for the analysis of forensic and archaeological contexts. Specifically, we intend to determine how burial can affect the mass, the metrics and the crystallinity of bones and teeth. Preliminary results have already been obtained for a MSc thesis

Researchers involved: AA, DVB, EC, MTF, DG